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Exposing the opportunities of agriculture to a diverse generation

How MANRRS helps steer minority talent to careers in agriculture

Joshua Southerling
// Community News

Raised in a military family, Joshua Southerling moved around to many different towns – none of which were farming communities. Aside from driving past farms on the highway, he says, he had almost no exposure to agriculture.

That changed after an enlightening meeting with a college advisor at the University of Kentucky, where he planned to study accounting.

“My advisor showed me all the jobs that alumni from the College of Agriculture with an ag econ degree had obtained, and it was so vast,” says Joshua. “That’s what got me into the College of Ag.”

But what kept him there, he says, was an organization called MANRRS: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Backed by Farm Credit Mid-America, MANRRS supports minority college students pursuing careers in agriculture, an industry in which diverse populations have been underrepresented.

Joshua, now a credit analyst with Farm Credit Mid-America for eight years, says the program is what sustained his interest as a college student.

Joshua says he’s grateful the College of Ag and MANRRS exposed him to opportunities that led to a rewarding career in agriculture – even though he never stepped foot on a farm until he interned with Farm Credit Mid-America as a college student.

Now, he often visits farms to connect with customers, helping them on a wide range of needs – from financing a new tractor to setting up a line of credit for their operation.

“I love visiting farms – sitting at a customer’s kitchen table and talking about their operation, their family, what was passed down,” says Joshua. “Growing up, I knew I wanted to part of something that was important. Agriculture fulfills that need because it’s the cornerstone of our economy. Everything else is built upon this industry.”

* Loans and leases are subject to credit approval. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Farm Credit Mid-America is an equal opportunity lender.

‡ Farm Credit Mid-America is an equal opportunity provider.

Farm Credit Mid-America territory includes Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Arkansas includes Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha (northeast of the White River), Greene, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips, Poinsett, and St. Francis counties. Missouri includes Carter, Ripley and Wayne counties. Kentucky excludes Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken counties. Ohio excludes Crawford, Hancock, Lucas, Marion, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca, Wood and Wyandot counties. We serve all counties in Indiana and Tennessee. 

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